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Best Monoculars 2024

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A good monocular has a number of advantages over binoculars and thus in certain situations and uses they can be the better option:

Their single barrel shape makes them great to carry about one handed and are easy to pop away into a pocket for easy storage.

Whilst it is true that the same could be said for a good compact binocular, the advantage with a monocular is that for roughly the same size and weight, you almost always get a much larger objective lens and thus generally better image quality and brightness, especially in low light.

Monocular vs Binoculars for Birding, Hunting, Hiking, Sports & TravelThen there is price: A monocular is basically half a binocular and because the manufacturer does not need to worry about maintaining perfect collimation between the two sides, a monocular is far easier and thus cheaper to produce. Therefore like for like, a monocular often costs a lot less than the equivalent binocular.

So yes, whilst you don't get the same impressive effect as you do with binocular vision, for ease of use and the advantages that we have gone over above there are times when a monocular is exactly what is needed.

For more details and if you are undecided on which is best for your needs, be sure to check out my in-depth article and included video on Monocular vs Binoculars for Birding, Hunting, Hiking, Sports & Travel.

Best Monocular Awards

This year I have decided to put together a list of the very best monoculars in a range of categories to help those looking to find a specific instrument for their needs and budget quickly and easily:


Best Overall | Best Value | Most Interesting | Best Birding | Best Hunting | Best Powerful | Best Zoom | Best Budget & Cheap


Overall: Top Rated Monoculars

Initially I thought it would be relatively easy to find the overall best monocular currently on the market ideal for use in a wide range of applications, but I have to say there were a number of contenders that could easily have taken this spot and with new digital technologies becoming more commonplace, I think it is impossible to just pick one device. What is best will definitely depend on your preferences and requirements.

So after very carefully going through all of the specifications and features on all the instruments on my shortlist, I finally settled on a number of options below which I do feel is are great choices if you wish to use your monocular for a wide range of uses and situations. In each description, I go through where they would be most useful and thus leave it up to ultimately decide which is best for you:

Canon PowerShot Zoom monocular

Canon PowerShot Zoom

The Canon PowerShot Zoom is a super interesting device that basically combines a video recorder and a tiny optical-only monocular into one device. And whilst it may not match a modern SLR camera or dedicated video recorder in terms of in terms of the captured image quality, its 3 zoom levels, super compact size and innovative design make it an ideal companion for those who desire a portable, easy-to-carry gadget that is able to quickly capture whatever it is that you discover.

Canon PowerShot Zoom monocular

Main Specifications & Highlights

  • Zoom: 1.2x / 4.8x / 9.6x (100/400/800mm)
  • Viewfinder: 0.39-inch OLED EVF, 2.36m dots, 100% coverage, 60Hz refresh rate
  • Sensor: 12.1MP 1/3-inch CMOS
  • Video: 1080p at 24, 25, 30p
  • Memory Card: 1x microSD / microSDHC / microSDXC
  • ISO Range: Auto (fixed 100-3200)
  • Maximum Aperture: W: f/5.6, T: f/6.3
  • Image Stabilization: Optical Image Stabilization (IS)
  • Connectivity: USB Type-C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Battery: Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Battery Life: About 70 minutes of continuous shooting or recording
  • Dimensions: 33.4mm x 50.8mm x 103.2mm
  • Weight: Approx. 145g

Innovation & Evolution
It's a pocket monocular with a camera sensor, enabling you to take photographs and videos at 100mm, 400mm, or 800mm. This three-step zoom function is a clever feature that adds to its uniqueness.

Portability & Versatility
As with any good monocular one of the standout features of the PowerShot Zoom is its very small size and thus it's overall portability (indeed it is a smaller than most compact monoculars!). Like your smartphone that you can keep in your pocket anywhere you go, except rather than just a small camera with a iffy digital zoom, you now have a telephoto camera and an observation only monocular with 3 zoom levels: 1.2x, 4.8x & 9.6x!

  • I found that these qualities makes it perfect for capturing unexpected moments without the burden of carrying heavy equipment.
  • The PowerShot Zoom definitely blurs the lines between a video recorder and an optical-only monocular: It's a digital monocular that can take 12.1MP pictures and full HD videos.

Comparing sizes of compact binoculars and monoculars to the Canon PowerShot Zoom monocular

While the PowerShot Zoom is a super interesting device, it does have its limitations. The its small size and therefore the small size lens mean that the recorded image quality is average (the view you see through the sensor is a much higher quality than what you record), and there's no manual control.

I found that the auto focus performance can be frustrating at times, especially at closer ranges. However, these limitations do not overshadow its innovative concept and the convenience it offers.

Overall, my first impressions of the Canon PowerShot Zoom monocular were overwhelmingly positive. By blending the functionality of a video recorder and the advantages of a monocular into a single, easy-to-carry device, the PowerShot Zoom opens up new possibilities for many uses, be that adventure, wildlife, travel or sport related.

Example Footage
For an example of the video recording, take a look at the Zoom comparison video below that includes some footage I captured using the Canon PowerShot Zoom monocular:

Canon PowerShot ZOOM sample footage - The Donkey & the Starling

Comparison Footage
For some comparisons, take a look at the Zoom comparison video below that includes some footage I captured using the Canon PowerShot Zoom monocular:

Binocular & Monocular Zoom Comparisons (4x, 6x, 7x, 8x, 10x, 16x, 20x, 30x, 60x)
- click here for the full article.

At the time of writing the Canon PowerShot Zoom monocular was selling for around $270 / £240 / €270:

Check Current Price & Where to Buy

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42 Monocular

Part of the same series of the best selling, very high quality Legend Ultra HD binoculars from Bushnell, the monocular version is a real winner in every sense of the word and as you would expect has all the features and components you would expect from a high end binocular, but at half the size and way cheaper to:

Main Specs & Highlights

  • 42mm Objective with ED Fluorite Glass
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Phase Corrected BaK-4 prisms
  • Water Repellent Coatings on exterior lenses
  • Waterproof & fogproof
  • Picatinny Rail
  • Twist-up Eyecup
  • Field Of View: 340ft@1000 yds
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 6.5ft
  • Eye Relief: 15.2mm
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42 Monocular

Available in either black or tan coloring, the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular is only available in the 10x42 configuration, but even so has a more than generous field of view.

Therefore in many ways you get the best of both worlds: greater image detail, but without sacrificing to much of the view.

Tan version of the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42 Monocular

The quality of the optics and the coatings is about as good as it gets in the world of monoculars and I like the small features like twist-up eye-cups (many have inferior folding rubber ones) and the Picatinny Rail on the side that makes it a cinch to clip to your belt or rucksack.

At the time of writing this Bushnell Monocular was retailing for around $172 / £175 which if you consider all the high end top end components and features makes them great value as well. Very Highly Recommended.

Check Current Price & Where to Buy

Most Interesting Monocular / Binocular

Pentax VD 4x20 WP Binocular & Monoculars

Two For the Price of One!
Two monoculars that join together to form a compact binocular, or if you want, you can join them together end-on-end to make a 16x scope! The Pentax VD 4x20 WP is a set of optics that the Transformers would be proud of!

Very small, lightweight, shareable, tough, waterproof, with an excellent quality, bright view, and a good low light performance for a compact. The Pentax VD 4x20 WP Monocular / Binocular also has an extremely wide field of view and extremely close minimum focus distance, that is easy to use (large exit pupil) with minimal image shake (low power).

  • Backyard Birding
  • Forest Birding / Wildlife Observation
  • Hiking
  • Backpacking / Bike Packing
  • Watching Sporting Events - tennis, cricket, horse racing, motorsports, golf...
  • Concerts / Opera - Both outdoors & indoors
  • Art Gallery or Museum - small, close focus, sharable, good low light with an excellent quality view.
  • Kayaking & Canoeing - waterproof and low power for image stability on the water
  • A Binocular for older Children / Teenagers
  • People with unsteady/shaky hands
  • Butterfly, Dragonflies and other Insects flowers from very close range
  • Preppers - Survival binoculars that are easy to store in your Bug Out or Get Home Bag and you can use the spotting scope at longer distances if needed

Main Specs & Features:

  • Mid-High End: Approx: $249 / £244 / €245
  • Perfect for Couples or Sharing a View
  • True Pocket Sized Design
    • Detachable Single Hinge Body with Metal Bridge
    • Converts from two Monoculars into a Binocular or a Spotting Scope
    • Fully Waterproof (JIS Class 7)
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
    • Phase-Coated
    • Super-high-reflection Dielectric multi-layer coatings
  • Ultra Wide FOV: 1525ft @ 1,000 yards / 175m @ 1,000 meters
  • Ultra Close Minimum Focus: 0.5m /1.6ft
  • Eye Relief: 19mm
Buy & Compare Prices: Pentax VD Binocular

Best Monocular for the Money

In this category my main aim is to find the highest performing, but budget friendly monocular as possible.

Before making my selection, I had a number of brands in mind that are known for producing really good value instruments. However after a lot of research, one monocular in particular stood out from the crowd and I have to say it was not even on my radar before I started:

Opticron WP Mono 8x30 Monocular

The Zen-Ray below listed below used to be my top choice in this "Best Value" category, but it is now very difficult to find and I think has been discontinued. Well, the good news is I have managed to unearth another excellent performer. Made in Japan, the Opticron WP Monocular incorporates a good level of optical components and features into a very small body, but at the same time, always half an eye on the price. The result is a monocular that easily performs above what I would expect to find at this level:

Main Specs & Highlights

  • 30mm Objective Lens
  • Fully multi-coated optical system
  • BaK-4 Roof prism
  • Waterproof & Nitrogen filled for fogproofing
  • Twist-up Eyecup with Eyepiece focusing mechanism
  • Field Of View: 383ft@1000 yds
  • Close focus to 5m/16.4ft
  • Eye Relief: 11mm
  • Made in Japan - Lifetime Warranty
Opticron WP Mono 8x30 Monocular

So far I have use the WP Mono for hiking and with great success on a kayaking trip that I recently went on with my family an would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a small, tough, lightweight optical instrument that you can take along just about anywhere without having to be overly precious with it, having it weigh you down, or filling up too much of your bag space.

Tan version of the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42 Monocular

Whilst it is true that the WP Mono does not incorporate the highest level of optics of all the monoculars on this page, I do think Opticron has been smart and done a good job in balancing performance versus price. For more on this, be sure to check out my article and video on Monocular vs Binoculars for Birding, Hunting, Hiking, Sports & Travel, where I use it as the example monocular and it will give you a far better insight into its main strengths and weaknesses, especially when compared to binoculars of a similar configuration.

Costing under $140 / £110, this nifty little monocular makes excellent value for money and is a great choice for those wanting a very small optical device that will perform well without having to break your bank balance. Very Highly Recommended.

Check Current Price & Where to Buy

Zen-Ray ZRS HD 8x42 Monocular

Update: Please note this monocular can be difficult to locate and I think it may have been discontinued, which is a real shame. If anyone has any info, please let me know. For the time being I will keep it listed as I do feel it offers excellent value if you can track a pair down.

Whilst they may not be very good at taking product photos (see below) Zen-Ray Optics, they do make a lot of monocular for money.

If you consider their low price point, I have to say that the level of optics used on the Zen-Ray ZRS HD Monocular is impressive, which combined with some really good stats made making my choice of best value monocular fairly simple:

Main Specs & Highlights

  • 42mm Objective Lens
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Phase-corrected, BAK-4 roof prism
  • Dielectric prism coatings
  • Waterproof & Fogproof Metal Chassis
  • Twist-up Eyecup
  • Field Of View: 393ft@1000 yds
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 6ft
  • Eye Relief: 17.3mm
  • Weight: 10oz
Opticron 8x42 BGA Monocular

A real standout feature at this price is the use of Dielectric prism coatings. These very highly reflective coatings are the best, but they are also expensive and thus you rarely find them on devices at this level.

As well as this the BaK-4 prism is phase corrected and the optics are full multi-coated.

The width of view is very good, as is the close focus and eye-relief is also more than enough for most users.

Indeed about the only really negative thing that I can come up with is the shockingly poor product photos that Zen-Ray supply! But perhaps by saving money on expensive studios and photographers, they are able to pass this on to us. If so, then long live poor quality product photos!

At only $135 the Zen-Ray ZRS HD looks to me to be a real bargain:

Check Current Price & Where to Buy

Best Birding Monocular

For the best monocular for birdwatching, I was especially looking for a high quality view and wide field of view that would make it easy to spot and locate your birds and then get the best possible view of them once you are locked on.

A great image quality is important not only for the enjoyment of observing beautiful birds, but also can make identifying them easier because as we know, the differences can sometimes be very small.

For more options and price ranges in this category, check out my guide to the Best Monoculars for Bird Watching.

Opticron 8x42 BGA Monocular

Whilst not Opticron's top of the range offering (that is the DBA Oasis S-Coat ), the BGA monocular offers what I feel is a pretty good performance to price ratio.

Main Specs & Highlights

  • 42mm Objective Lens
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Waterproof & fogproof
  • Twist-up Eyecup
  • Field Of View: 330ft@1000 yds
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 6.6ft
  • Eye Relief: 19mm
  • Length: 5.4in, Width: 1.7in
Opticron 8x42 BGA Monocular

Made in Japan this monocular is small, lightweight and uncomplicated device.

With a twist-up eye-cup and plenty of eye-relief it is a good option for those who wear glasses.

The standard of the optics and their coatings is good and will equal anything within their price range.

Opticron 8x42 BGA Monocular

The Opticron BGA 8x42 Monocular is at the time of writing on offer for around $200 / £139 depending on where you shop:

Check Current Price & Where to Buy

Best Hunting Monocular

For a the best monocular for hunting I was looking for a number of critical features that are required for this use on top of the usual ones.

This included ruggedness, ease of carrying and storage is paramount as hunters will also have other gear, a wide field of view and if possible range finding was a bonus.

As you will see below, the winner not only fulfills these minimum requirements but surpasses them with a bunch of other features:

Vortex Recce Pro HD Monocular

If you are looking for a high performance, really small, easy to carry, lightweight, but tough monocular designed specifically with hunters in mind, then look no further than the Vortex Recce Pro HD 8x32 monocular.

The list of high quality features and best in class specifications is really impressive on these:

Vortex Optics Recce 8x32 Pro HD Monocular

Main Specs & Highlights

  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • ED Glass Lens Elements
  • Extra Protective Exterior Lens Coatings
  • Ranging Reticle
  • Onboard Utility Clip
  • Flared Eyecup
  • Fog & Waterproof
  • Vortex Lifetime Warranty
  • Field of View: 400ft
  • Angle of View: 7.6°
  • Close Focus: 5ft
  • Eye-Relief: 14.5mm
  • Weight: 11oz
  • Length: 6.18"
Vortex Optics Recce 8x32 Pro HD Monocular

This Vortex monocular could easily have won the overall award, but the hash marked ranging reticle in the view marks it out as being perfect for hunting and the fact that it is fully sealed also possible for marine use.

Recticle on the Vortex Optics Recce 8x32 Pro HD MonocularIt uses a Mill based reticle that also includes a number of silhouettes that means you can quickly asses the range without having to calculate it. For more details, take a look at them on my page about Vortex Rangefinders.

The field of view on these is extremely wide, which when combined with the HD optics makes them perfect for quickly scanning wide areas of terrain looking for game.

Features like the utility clip that makes it super easy to attach to your belt or webbing as well as the flared eye-cup, tethered lens caps and full lifetime warranty are all great indicators as to the superior quality and attention to detail on this unit.

Indeed, I really can't find a major weakness on these to talk about. There may be some that would possibly wish for a higher power than 8x, but then you would be sacrificing the width of view and low light performance. So for a compact 32mm monocular for hunting, I really do think the Vortex Recce Pro HD is about as good as it gets.


Currently selling for around $299 / £290 the Vortex Recce Pro HD is not ultra cheap, but then the quality of components is high and is still a really good and cheaper alternative than a full rangefinder binocular. Highly Recommended.

Check Current Price & Where to Buy

Best Powerful Monocular

This is the category who want extra reach and as much image detail as possible. Here I was looking for a powerful magnification, but at the same the device needed to have a reasonably large objective lens and high level of optics to allow it to still deliver a bright image.

Hawke 15x50 Nature-Trek Monocular

With a 15x magnification, the Nature-Trek from Hawke Sport Optics is certainly a powerful monocular. Indeed I would say that it is at the limit. Any higher and you should probably just opt for a small/travel spotting scope.

They use the same optics as the impressive Nature-Trek binoculars, the 8x42 version actually won my award as best low cost binocular a few years back.

Main Specs & Highlights

  • Powerful 15x Magnification
  • Large 50mm Objective Lens
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Phase corrected BAK-4 roof prism
  • Waterproof & fogproof
  • Twist-up Eyecup
  • Field Of View: 199ft@1000 yds
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 6.6ft
  • Eye Relief: 10mm
  • Weight: 34.9oz
Hawke Sport Optics 15x50 Nature-Trek Monocular

I really like it that Hawke have decided to use a larger 50mm objective lens. Sure it increases the size of the monos a little, but it means that it maintains the exit pupil to a good size and this ensure a bright image even in low light.

For such a powerful instrument, the field of view is not bad, but with just 10mm of eye-relief, I would not recommend these to those who need or want to wear glasses whilst using their monocular.

At under $100 / £85 they also look to offer great value for money:

Check Current Price & Where to Buy

Best Zoom Monocular

With binoculars I vary really recommend one that has a variable magnification (zoom), this is because the issues involved with maintaining perfect collimation between the two sides whilst altering the is really problematic and as a result, very few are any good.

However with a monocular or spotting scope, you no longer have this problem. So below is my pick of the best monocular with a zoom, where I also took into consideration price and level of components:

Barska 10-25x42 Battalion Monocular

With a massive zoom range that takes you from 10x right up to 25x, it is good to see that Barska have used a standard sized 42mm objective on the Battalion so as to maintain a reasonably sized exit pupil.

Although I have to say, if given the choice, I would probably go for a 50mm one, even though you are then sacrificing size, but in return you would get a better low light performance and make it easier to line up your eyes at the highest zoom level.

Main Specs & Highlights

  • 42mm Objective Lens
  • Magnification from 10x to 25x
  • Fog & Waterproof
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • BAK-4 roof prism
  • Field Of View: 200ft at10x & 150ft at25x
  • Close Focus Distance: 3.2ft
  • Eye Relief: 14 - 9.5mm
Barska 10-25x42 Battalion Monocular

The level of optics and coatings on the Battalion is good and pretty much would you would expect to see at this price level

Apart from the Zoom, a real standout sat for me is the incredibly close minimum focus distance of only 3.2ft. So not only are these with their high 25x power good for long distance, but also close as well.

The one down side is that I would have liked a wider field of view, because even at the lowest power of setting of 10x it is 200ft wide, which is a little less than the average for a 10x monocular and far from the best.

At around $99 this looks to be a great option if you want a monocular with a zoom:

Check Current Price & Where to Buy

Best Budget (Under $60 / £60) & Cheap Monocular (Under $40 / £40)

In many ways these are the hardest categories to get right. This is because there are so many really bad cheap monoculars, it is really easy to get it wrong! Here I looked for a monocular that had a good level of optics and some decent specs to go with it.

You can't expect miracles and you have to understand that it is impossible for an instrument at this low price level to compete with those above.

So if I had less than $60 or even $40 to spend, then these are the monoculars that I would get:

Wingspan ProSpotter 10x42 Monocular

If it is a workman like monocular that does not cost the earth, but will perform it's function well, then I suggest taking a closer look at the Wingspan Optics ProSpotter 10x42 as to me it looks to offer a really good level of price to performance.

Good quality optics and relatively large 42mm lens ensures that this model will present you with bright, crisp views, yet for a 42mm device it is very lightweight and easy to hold.

As definite strength for me was the wide view that it produces compared to many other 10x alternatives at this price level. The advantage her is that it helps you to locate and then follow objects easier and more quickly

As with any half decent instrument, this Wingspan monocular is both waterproof and fogproof, which also means that they are protected from dust entering the system in dry environments.

Twist-up eyecups and a good level of eye-relief ensure comfortable viewing even with glasses.

Main Specs & Highlights

  • Full sized 42mm Objective Lens
  • Multi-Coated Optics
  • BAK-4 roof prism
  • Waterproof & fogproof (Nitrogen filled)
  • Twist-up Eyecup
  • Field Of View: 304 ft/1000 yds
  • Close Focus Distance: 2m
  • Weight: 11.6oz
Wingspan ProSpotter 10x42 Monocular

At the time of writing they were available for about $50 / £50 on most popular web shops:

Check Current Price & Where to Buy

Bushnell 8x32 Off Trail Monocular

The strong points are that these have a really nice wide field of view, a decent amount of eye-relief and with the small 32mm objective are both compact and lightweight.

I was also happy to see that Bushnell have used BaK-4 prisms on these. Whilst doing my research, many at this low price level had inferior BK-7 optical glass prisms.

The one issue I have is that the optics are only Multi-Coated and not Fully Multi-Coated. Still at this level that is somewhat to be expected and every time I found a fully multi-coated one, they would compensate for it in other areas (like having lower quality prisms etc.).

Main Specs & Highlights

  • Compact with 32mm Objective Lens
  • Multi-Coated Optics
  • BAK-4 roof prism
  • Waterproof & fogproof
  • Twist-up Eyecup
  • Field Of View: 390ft@1000 yds
  • Close Focus Distance: 9ft
  • Eye Relief: 16mm
  • Weight: 15.5oz
Bushnell 8x32 Off Trail Monocular

So all-in-all, a nice little inexpensive take anywhere monocular, perfect for occasional use, taking to a sporting event, backyard birding and more.

I found them on offer for just under $40 at a number of on-line retailers

Check Current Price & Where to Buy


There are some really great monoculars out there at the moment, with a lot of choices. This is good in that the competition in the market makes for better quality products at lower prices, but it can make knowing what to choose more difficult.

Thus I hope this very short list of my choices as the best monoculars of 2024 has in some small way helped to make that decision easier for you.

As I say even if you already have a pair of binoculars, there will still be occasions where the sheer convenience and ease of use just makes a monocular a better choice and is why I think if you can afford it, it is well worth investing in one.

Likewise if you don't have binoculars and you don't want to splash out for both barrels, choose a good monocular like from the list above and you will have a high performance optical device at a far cheaper price :-)

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